(In 7th paragraph, corrects day of week to Thursday, not
WASHINGTON May 9 President Barack Obama on
Friday will announce executive orders to increase the use of
solar panels, boost energy efficiency in federal buildings and
train more people to work in the renewable energy field, the
White House said.
The president, who will make the announcement during a visit
to Wal-Mart in Mountain View, California, will also highlight
commitments by corporations to lift solar generation at their
facilities. Wal-Mart, Apple Inc, Yahoo Inc, Google Inc and Ikea
were among the companies making such commitments.
Several financial institutions, including Citigroup Inc and
Goldman Sachs Group Inc, were announcing new plans for "large
scale investment and innovative programs" to develop solar and
renewable energy installations, the White House said.
Obama's executive actions would support efforts at community
colleges so that 50,000 workers would join the solar industry by
2020, it said.
Another initiative would press for $2 billion in energy
efficiency upgrades for federal buildings over the next three
years, building on another $2 billion commitment from 2011.
Actions to strengthen building codes were also part of the
"Investing in solar and efficiency makes sense to reduce our
carbon emissions, but also for our pocketbooks and for our
economy," said Dan Utech, an energy adviser to Obama, during a
conference call on Thursday to preview Obama's announcement.
He said the U.S. solar energy industry had expanded
dramatically under Obama's watch, with installations increasing
to an amount enough to power more than 2 million homes.
"So momentum is increasing," Utech said. "Since President
Obama took office we've increased production from U.S. solar
electricity more than tenfold, and in the last year, U.S.
production of electricity from solar energy was double what it
was just two years ago."
An Obama spokesman also announced the completion of a
project to install solar panels at the White House itself. The
panels were American-made and part of an energy "retrofit" for
the building that would improve its energy efficiency.
"The project, which helps demonstrate that historic
buildings can incorporate solar energy and energy efficiency
upgrades, is estimated to pay for itself in energy savings over
the next eight years," spokesman Matt Lehrich said.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)